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Rumblings Scouting Report: South Carolina TE Jared Cook

South Carolina TE Jared Cook (Icon SMI)

As the 2009 NFL Draft approaches, the editorial staff at Buffalo Rumblings will begin profiling draft prospects that may end up being potential targets of the Bills.  MattRichWarren continues his look at tight end prospects today by profiling South Carolina's Jared Cook.

One of the positions of need that has been clearly stated by the Rumblings community this year is a pass-catching tight end.  As we've discussed, the best way for the Buffalo Bills to adequately address the position is through the draft.  I've been assigned the task of scouting the tight ends expected to go in rounds two through four.  Today we'll look at South Carolina tight end Jared Cook.

While I never watch college football, let alone the University of South Carolina, Gamecock Man from SBN's own South Carolina blog Garnet and Black Attack sure does.  He has seen a lot of Cook and here's what he had to say.  Bonus: Gamecock Man lives in Rochester and went to a Bills game this year.  He says, "I had a great time. You guys have some great fans."

Jared Cook - Tight End, South Carolina
6'5", 240 lbs., 4.50-second 40 yard dash

Strengths: Receiving Skills

Cook is definitely a pass-catching TE. He has great hands and good route-running abilities. His size and athletic ability also give him an edge on the defender. He has the height and leaping ability to bring down jump balls in the end zone or to reel in slightly overthrown balls. Slower LBs can't keep up with his cuts on crossing routes, and he's capable of turning short gains into longer ones if he gets a step on a LB or slower DB. We got the ball to him on crossing routes quite a bit, but you can also go vertical with him. He's more or less a WR in a TEs body.

A couple of plays stand out as examples of his speed. Against both Ole Miss and Arkansas, he got past defensive backs and caught balls down the sideline around our own 30-40 yard line. Against Ole Miss, he was caught just short of the endzone, netting a 60 yard gain. Against Arkansas, the defensive backs couldn't catch him. Most NFL DBs will be faster than what Arkansas and Ole Miss put on the field, but you can see that he's fast.

Weaknesses: Blocking

Cook's blocking abilities (or maybe it's desire to block) aren't the best. We lined him up split wide in some formations, and when he lined up inside, he often got beaten off the line. You may have heard that South Carolina was one of the worst running teams and gave up lots of sacks last year. Cook was as guilty as anyone in that regard. With coaching, though, he could become a better blocker if he has the will to do so. He has the size and strength.

NFL Comparison: Calvin Johnson, Detroit

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier is the one who made this comparison based on Cook's size and speed.  They are both 6'5" and Johnson weighs only a few pounds less than Cook at 239 pounds.  While Cook's 40 time was impressive at 4.50, Johnson did run a 4.33 leading up to the draft.

Other Tidbits:

Relies on his athleticism rather than technique to get off the line of scrimmage... Tends to freelance a bit as a route-runner... Can make the spectacular catch, but is prone to lapses in concentration... Marginal effort and effectiveness as a blocker, especially in close quarters. -

Does Cook "Fit the Bill"?

There is a sense that he didn't live up to expectations.  Cook's physical skills would make you think he could be unstoppable, and while he was certainly a productive pass catcher, he never really had the break out season statistically that we all thought he would. Steve Spurrier has criticized his drive in the past, so it makes one wonder.  Part of the problem, of course, was our well-documented issues at QB, so I'm not sure that he deserves the blame.

Many people have been high on Cook but this doesn't thrill me, guys.  I want guys who have something to prove.  Cook, with his great Combine performance, is shooting up the draft boards both here and everywhere.  I want him if he's "unstoppable" but I don't if we have to question his drive.  I also don't like when scouts say he gives "marginal effort when blocking".  I doubt the Bills do either.

Collected Scouting Reports for further information:

Mocking the Draft (#3 TE, third round projection)
Scott Wright
(#3 TE, second-third round projection)'s Bucky Brooks (second best TE)

Thanks a lot to Gamecock man and Garnet and Black Attack for their help on this.